Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts about women in scripture.
As Jesus traveled throughout Galilee he was accompanied by “women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance” (Luke 8:1–3).
From this passage we learn that there were many women who traveled with the Savior and were among his closest associates. Significantly, many of them provided financial assistance that helped to move the work forward. Joanna in particular seems to have been a powerful person, at least in part because her husband Chuza was a high-ranking official to Herod Antipas (the ruler who put John the Baptist to death).
While some women (like Susana) are only mentioned once, and others are not named at all, these women clearly played in an important role in the Savior’s ministry. These women came with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. When Jesus was brought to trial before Herod Antipas (see Luke 23:6-12), did Joanna use her connections to be present? Did she try desperately to intervene in the Savior’s behalf?
At the cross “the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding” the Savior (Luke 23:49). Matthew adds that there were “many women” present (Matthew 27:55). When the Savior was buried, “the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid” (Luke 23:55).
After the crucifixion, “upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” these same women, including “Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them” all came to the sepulcher (Luke 24:1, 10).
When they arrived, “they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus….As they were much perplexed… two men stood by them in shining garments: And… said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” (Luke 24:2-6).
These women with were Christ in Galilee, at the cross, stood by at his tomb, and were present on resurrection morning. Holding firm when others fled, they remained faithful to him. Strong women were at the heart of the Savior’s ministry in his mortal ministry and they continue to play a central role in His work today!
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Camille Fronk Olson’s article, “They Ministered unto Him of Their Substance: Women and the Savior.”